University News

Andrew Jerrold ‘Jerry’ Perenchio, 86, entertainment executive and philanthropist

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Jerry Perenchio
Associated Press

Jerry Perenchio

Longtime entertainment executive, film producer and philanthropist Andrew Jerrold Perenchio died Tuesday, May 23, at his home in Bel-Air after being diagnosed with lung cancer months before. He was 86.

Perenchio, who graduated from UCLA in 1954 with a bachelor of science degree in business economics, built a long and successful career on his extraordinary ability to predict and capitalize on what would galvanize the public’s attention — whether it was promoting the 1971 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier or orchestrating the 1973 Battle of the Sexes tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King. Among his many legendary business ventures was the transformation of a financially anemic Univision Communications into the Spanish- language media juggernaut.

Aside from his business interests, Perenchio was a strong advocate for UCLA and its mission. For 50 years, his service to and support for the university spanned the north and south parts of the campus, from the arts to medicine.

“What we will always admire most about Jerry was his singular focus on the impact he could make, rather than on the plaudits or praise he could receive for it,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “He once said that he was content staying in the background. But we believe his contributions to UCLA are very much at the forefront, and his legacy will continue to enrich lives for generations to come.”

Born into a family of vintners in Fresno and educated in a Los Angeles prep school, Perenchio had already developed a keen sense for business as a UCLA student. While on campus, he started Party Management, which booked party bands and catered celebrations, according to “UCLA: The First Century.” In the fall of 1951, he famously welcomed an elegantly gowned Marilyn Monroe to UCLA’s junior prom.

Reed Hutchinson/UCLA
Perenchio with Nancy Reagan at the 2007 dedication of the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Perhaps his most transformative efforts revolved around his leadership on behalf of the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. When he was still chief executive of Univision, Perenchio led a group of donors who collectively contributed $150 million to name UCLA’s hospital, then called the Westwood Replacement Hospital, after President Ronald Reagan, according to the UCLA history book. The Reagans were his Bel-Air neighbors.

“Thanks to his vision and commitment, UCLA now operates one of the finest medical facilities in the world, and the premier facility on the West Coast,” said Dr. John Mazziotta, vice chancellor for UCLA Health Sciences and CEO of UCLA Health. “The building stands in proud tribute to Jerry’s contributions and efforts to benefit UCLA and the people of Southern California.”

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